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Jay Koovarjee

 92 Pitt St
Sydney NSW 2000
ph: (02) 9221 0091
fax: (02) 8880-8326

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:: Diarrhoea

Everyday Ailments - Diarrhoea
  Everyday Ailments

Diarrhoea is a common problem that usually lasts a day or two and goes away on its own without any special treatment. However, prolonged diarrhoea can be a sign of other problems.  Diarrhoea is characterised by loose, water faeces occurring more than three times a day.

Diarrhoea can cause dehydration, which means the body lacks enough fluid to function properly. Dehydration is particularly dangerous in children and the elderly, and it must be treated promptly to avoid serious health problems.

Diarrhoea is usually caused by a gastointestinal infection.

Diarrhoea may have many different causes including a change in diet, food intolerance (e.g. lactose), inflammatory bowel disorder, medications (e.g. antibiotics, magnesium-containing antacids), a bacterial infection (food poisoning) or a viral infection (e.g. rotavirus in children).

Diarrhoea may also be caused by diet, for example, too much fruit or fruit juice. People with diarrhoea, especially the very young and the very elderly, are at risk of becoming rapidly dehydrated. 

Seek medical advice if:

You should seek medical advice if:

  • your child or an elderly person has severe diarrhoea, as they may become rapidly dehydrated
  • diarrhoea lasts more than 48 hours in a normal adult
  • there is bright red blood in the faeces, or stools are dark and tarry
  • the faeces have high fat content, which may be seen as pale, greasy, foul smelling stools that are difficult to flush
  • symptoms include fever or stomach cramps, or a general feeling of being unwell
  • you have vomiting, weakness and dizziness
  • there are signs of dehydration such as lethargy, loss of skin elasticity, dry mucous membranes, sunken eyes, decreased urine output, rapid heart rate or confusion
  • constipation alternates with the diarrhoea
  • the diarrhoea was acquired while travelling
  • the diarrhoea occurred after recent treatment with an antibiotic


  • Rehydration is the most important thing - drink at least 3 litres of fluid a day. The ideal fluid is bottled water with ORS (Oral Rehydration Salts) Gastrolyte correctly added.
  • Antibiotics - treat the cause of the problem, i.e. the infection.
  • Loperamide - this is simply a ‘stopper’...a sort of pharmacological cork. Loperamide keeps the infection in the body, which means you will have the infection for, longer. Imodium, Lomotil, Codeine and other ‘stoppers’ all do the same thing.
  • Nausea treatments - common brands are Stemetil and Maxolon. These come in tablets, suppositories or injections and can help with nausea and vomiting.

If you are hungry, eat a little. There is no need to ‘rest the stomach’, but try bland foods initially, especially carbohydrates such as rice, pasta, biscuits, bread or potato. Avoid too much dairy food, alcohol, fatty or spicy food while recovering.

More Information:


Ask Your Pharmacist about:

  •   managing diarrhoea


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